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Our View: Time running out on Cemex bill

Posted: October 9, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 9, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

It’s now October, and we still haven’t seen any real progress on passing the legislation to keep Mexican mining giant Cemex out of our backyard, despite the seemingly universal support for the measure.

Passage of Senate Bill 759 will help us prevent mining and keep the Santa Clarita Valley pristine. And, oddly enough, Cemex is fine with this. The move won’t cost taxpayers a dime.

And passage of Sen. Barbara Boxer’s bill is also whole-heartedly being supported by the Santa Clarita City Council, Cemex, SCV and county Republican and Democratic organizations, environmental groups, business groups and our local school districts.

Given all this support, we’re at loss to explain the apparent lack of movement to pass this bill.

Having a large-scale gravel mine in the hills of the Santa Clarita Valley will lead to an increase in commercial trucks along the already beleaguered Highway 14. And, as clean-air advocates from all over Southern California have said, the mining operation will put particulate matter into the air, leading to a possible increase in breathing disorders and overall harming the quality of life in the SCV.

Many in the area might not realize how very real this impending action is because it’s been ongoing for nearly 20 years. But the deadline for passing SB 759 is the end of this year. So, if it doesn’t get voted on and approved, in a couple of years, the SCV could be a dusty, noisy place full of gravel trucks clogging the freeways.

But this bill is struggling to gain traction in Washington, largely because it has no companion bill in the House of Representatives. Our local Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, hasn’t supported the legislation because of a Republican ban on special spending provisions. But his deputy chief of staff said McKeon would likely vote for it, should it come to a House vote.

But the clock is ticking, and the bill isn’t making its way through the legislative process fast enough. We urge local residents to contact McKeon, Sens. Boxer, D-Calif., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to urge them to do everything they can in the next several weeks to keep a pit mine out of our valley before the deadline comes and goes.

It’s much harder to close a mine than it is to keep it from opening.

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